Good morning everyone. Official University updates are available at www.seattleu.edu/coronoavirus/ and there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the campus community.
Yesterday I shared a couple of items ahead of formal announcements about them because of they seemed very certain and the first one will require significant preparation for all of us in a limited time frame. As I noted in an email at 5:33 pm yesterday, although there has been no formal announcement at this point I think it is highly likely that the university will begin the coming quarter online. I shared that with you to help preparations for the coming quarter, but it is not yet the official position of the university, so please do not yet share it that way with students or other groups. I also think it is most likely we will move from online delivery back to in-person delivery if we see a crest to the outbreak early in the quarter. In any case, I highly recommend checking the CDLI Instructional Continuity Web Page and going in for a one-on-one consultation (as your own risk profile allows).
The most frequent questions I am getting right now are around travel; I will go through them here in the order of frequency. We are following the university policy restricting nonessential travel through June 15th. Conference attendance is not considered essential travel. Given conferences involve large numbers of people from a wide range of geographic locations in close quarters for extended periods of time, they are exactly the kind of events that increase virus transmission. We do not yet have a formal university policy regarding reimbursement for nonrefundable travel expenses such as nontransferable airline tickets. I will work to refund as many of those lost expenses as possible within whatever university policy may develop (advocating for refunding such expenses in every case) but talk to the airline/hotel/car rental company about how they can provide refunds or credit. At least one airline presently has a country-by-country policy for the type of refund or credit they can provide. In terms of what constitutes "travel" when driving rather than flying domestically, we will make a judgment call for the college and say that if it requires an overnight stay it is "travel" and falls under this policy. You can make personal decisions about traveling but I recommend making personal decisions with the social distancing guidelines in mind.
Another item I shared is a Seattle Times news article on a pending announcement from Governor Inslee. That article is behind a pay wall, so I will include the link below and quote the March 10th article by Times Staff Reporter Joseph O'Sullivan that said "Gov. Jay Inslee is expected Wednesday to restrict gatherings of more than 250 people in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, a move aimed at sports, concerts and other cultural events." the measure "would not affect retail stores" but "applies to large public gatherings such as baseball games, concerts and cultural events, another source told The Times."
I have been noting other universities that have moved to fully online for the remainder of their current semester or quarter. I will note just two more as the list is now growing rapidly, Seattle Pacific University and University of Puget Sound have moved to online for the rest of their quarters, but CNN posted a list as of yesterday, in the written article beneath the video at this link: How we can fight the coronavirus
Last but not least, here is Dr. Mike Myint's post for the morning. I would note that the acronym for his medical specialization, "ID," stands for Infectious Disease.
My brother and I had a debate in a summer course we both took at UCLA. back in the 80's. Are viruses living or not? My brother had the position that it was not and I had the position that it was. As usual, I was right... but as an ID doc, viruses still fascinate me. Especially how they essentially "hack" certain human cells and turn them into factories to make more virus. This is a nice article showing how that process works for Coronavirus.
Just a few significant recent stats - There are now over 1000 cases diagnosed in the US. Italy just broke 10,000 cases and shut down the country yesterday. We in the US are just in the early stages of the epidemic. With increased testing, look for our numbers to increase quite a bit. Given that the elderly are particularly vulnerable, we are focusing on how we can assist our nursing homes in preventing the spread of the disease in those high risk locations. Unfortunately, this is just the beginning and we have to focus on the simple, not easy interventions to blunt the peak of this epidemic.